VTec in the Mini – First Dry Fit

So today is a pretty massive day in the life of MAHVIN. Today, the VTec went into the engine bay for the very first time. 

Not only that but the subframe tower bolts went in and the car become one part.

Sure – there are still some adjustments to be made, and some parts need to be finalised, but it was such a relief to see all the hard work over the last year finally paying off and the end dream coming into fruition. 

The moment before it all happened.
A combination of dollies, hoist, and jack to wrangle the engine into place in MAHVIN.
It's in! Also... a huge bonus having Minivation's vertical hinges working their magic here!

The official proof. Those that own Mini’s will know what the arrow is pointing to. 

For those who don’t, the arrow is pointing to the tower bolt. This bolt screws into the top of the front subframe and joins it to the car. 

Essentially this photo is PROOF that we got the VTec into the Mini!

Note the VTec rocker cover in the foreground (over exposed so that the bolt can be seen)

The b16a VTec in place, sitting proud as punch. Obviously we left the engine straps on as we will be in and out a few more times before the final fitment. 

Note the socket wrench used to fasten the subframe tower bolt!


MAHVIN the Mini

In 2008 I purchased a 1980 Morris Mini LE. It is still my dream car, and I love that I own one.

Since owning it, I have replaced just about everything on it with something newer and more reliable. That was the plan anyway.

In 2013, my brother and I put in a 1275 engine.

However, we never got it running right, and it still leaked oil like a sieve.


In 2018, I purchased a donor car with a Honda b16a VTEC engine. We set about dismantling the entire car, keeping what we needed for the transplant and ditching the rest.

We have begun work on the subframe, something that is key to get right in order to get the VTEC and the Mini working in unison.

In 2019, I finally figured out the name for my Mini. Starting off as Gherkin for it’s Spanish Olive Green paint job, I had it painted Gun Metal Silver in 2010, meaning the name didn’t stick. We tossed around a few names: Remmington, HiHo, The Silver Bullet; but none really stuck.

Now with the intention of installing the VTEC in it ourselves – a new name was needed. “Marvin the Mini” had a good ring to it, and I wanted to make it a bit more linked to the car than just that. I began thinking of different acronyms that could spell out MARVIN – given the V could be for VTEC. Being that we are a couple of amateurs when it comes to fabrication and mechanics, the name became “MAHVIN”, each letter standing for “Mini And Honda VTEC Integrated by Novices”.


New Car – Post 2000

It’s come to the point in time where the reliability of my beloved 1980 Mini LE has come to an end. Whilst I will continue to keep hold of my dream car (and my first!) and look after it, it will sadly be held under a blanked for 9 months of the year until the glorious New Zealand sunshine comes out to play in December, January, and February.


In the process of looking for a new (but used) car, the conundrum of whether to go with a Pre-2000 car vs. a Post-2000 car has come up. This is because of the possible change in law sometime in 2013, where cars that were made after 2000 will be required to only get one WOF per year. All those of vintage years before the year 2000 will have to continue to get a WOF every six months.
Initially I began ruling out pre-2000 cars because of the WOF issue. The inconvenience of having to get it warranted every six months is annoying, but it is manageable. It is also an additional cost, at $50 per WOF.
But looking at the prices, I’m seeing that the difference between 1999 cars and 2001 cars of the same make and model is about $2000. Now, if my maths is right, then at an additional $50 per year (because ONE payment of $50 a year still has to be made), means that it would take 40 years of additional WOF’s to make up the difference that I’m paying.
My wife also pointed out that, like health issues, if they are found early then they can be treated sooner. Having a problem for a good part of a year going unnoticed could end up costing more than finding the problem at it’s early stages every six months.
So I have now been able to reason with myself and help out my wallet, by re-including pre-2000 cars in my search for new wheels.

Mini - boot

Mini Boot

Mini - boot

For a while I’ve been meaning to get around to finishing off my Mini’s boot. Since I got it painted, I ripped out the old backing, and was ready to put the new carpet base in. A can of adhesive spray that sticks your arm hair together later and it was done!

Mini 2010

Return of the Mini

Mini 2010

It took a long, agonising six weeks. After an initial quoted two, and minimal customer contact, I finally got back my beloved Mini yesterday.
It needed some rust taken out of it, and so I figured that whilst that was getting done, Id pay a few extra dollars and come away with the paint job Id always intended, just not as early as this.
It is half a month until I would have had my Mini for a year…
An early birthday present for it…




It was a celebratory trip to Staglands with Vicky. With the Mini safely back in my hands, it was time for a road trip.

We headed out to Staglands, and then continued on out across the Akatarera’s to Lindale, Paraparaumu and to Plimerton for Dinner.

These are some of the old rustic photos I took of the wildlife passed away.


Boot Tray - Before

Boot Tray Project

Boot Tray - Before

(Boot before Tray being fitted)

Over the last few weeks I’ve been passing the time by tidying up my boot.
Mini’s boots contain both the spare wheel and the battery, and the fuel tank is also exposed in this area. Added to this I’ve been chucking in a mat to help manage the oil leak.
It was time to tidy it all up by fitting a tray that will tighten up the whole look.
The main tray is made from plywood, and has been cut to fit and covered in carpet.

Boot Tray

(Boot with tray installed. Folds down flat)




It was a night to remember.

At BB tonight, we set about trying to break world records… or BB records at least. From jumping in undies, to memorizing numbers and eating M&M’s with chopsticks; we did them all.

This one beats the cake though. We got the boys to pile into my beloved Mini, cramming them into the various nooks and crannies. We managed to get 16 boys into it.

The world record is 18. However, the world record needs to have everyone over the age of 18 and needs to be over 5 foot 6 in height. But it was a blinkin’ good effort all the same!


Morning Light


This morning I decided to head out early to get a few morning shots. I headed up the River Road towards Upper Hutt. There are a few good spots along there that are almost too good to be postcards!
Whilst I was getting a few of the clouds around the hills, the sun decided to poke its glorious head over the top of the hills. A beautiful reminder of God’s glory.
I managed to get quite a few photos, so these will feature in the next few days worth of photos.